Proverbs 1:10-19 – Proverbial Leadership

Proverbs 1:10-19  10 My child, if sinners entice you, do not consent.  11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us wantonly ambush the innocent;  12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive and whole, like those who go down to the Pit.  13 We shall find all kinds of costly things; we shall fill our houses with booty.  14 Throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”–  15 my child, do not walk in their way, keep your foot from their paths;  16 for their feet run to evil, and they hurry to shed blood.  17 For in vain is the net baited while the bird is looking on;  18 yet they lie in wait– to kill themselves! and set an ambush– for their own lives!  19 Such is the end of all who are greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.

It is my observation that one of the characteristics of “leader wannabes” is that it is easy for them to be distracted and chase after the newest and best idea.  Witness the dramatic rise and meteoric fall of some of the leadership catch phrases and concepts that rip through the business community every couple of years.  We grab hold of the latest idea thinking that it will finally be the edge we need.

But it is not just in the business world.  Verse 19 of Proverbs 1 points to the end of those “who are greedy for gain”, or, using the word found in the 10 Commandments, those who covet their neighbor’s things.

Television advertisements are running nearly nonstop about a new show airing on the Fox network next week.  People are asked questions and earn money based on their answers.  They are “compelled” to be honest because they are wired into a lie detector.  On the ad, a man is asked if he would have an affair if he knew he would not get caught.  The ad encourages us to assume that he is facing his wife, and that his answer is, “yes”.

A man I know finds himself constantly daydreaming about relationships with women he encounters.  Walking down the street, he constantly evaluates whether or not he finds them attractive or desirable.  When he notices a desirable woman, he quickly reminds himself that he has invested time, energy, commitment, and indeed his whole life in the woman he is married to and asks himself whether or not he is willing to risk it all in pursuing even the first step in a possible relationship.  Inevitably, his answer is, “No”.  While I don’t advocate this approach, it is interesting in that this man has found a way to remind himself that he puts at risk everything he has pulled together in his life and that even a seemingly innocent first step could eventually result in the loss of years of building a life with someone.

The difference between the described “leader wannabe” and the man described above is that there is a developed set of values which are used to evaluate that which is newly presented.  “Is it consistent with my goals and values?” “What is the likelihood that it will not create conflict with those goals and values?” 

This part of Proverbs suggests in a subtle way that we not rely on our own evaluation of the new idea and whether or not it fits into our goals and values.  The trap is set for the birds while they watch!  They don’t understand what they see!  The person who is wise does not listen only to their own counsel.  In fact, the wise leader listens to those who see things differently.

 Pondering Pastor


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